I went to visit your garden with a group of people from LA Eco Village. Thank you so much for showing us around, it was very motivating for us to do something in our garden. I have a question about chicken. We are building a chicken house, somehow, the chicken manages to fly out of house everyday, and we are thinking of clipping a little bit of her wings, would you please advise us: is it ok to do it, and how to do it? Thank you so much.

Whee! We chickens love to escape. It is true what they say: the grass is always, ALWAYS greener on the other side.

I’m tempted to go with my chicken instinct and let my fellow hens run wild and free to gobble up all those yummy vegetables but, alas, I need to do my official duty here. đŸ™‚

It is okay to clip a chicken’s wings, it does not hurt the bird and won’t bother her a bit. They usually don’t even notice other than the fact that they can’t fly as well and get over the wall to that yummy garden place. As you may already know, a chicken’s feathers is just like a human’s fingernails — if you clip them right, it doesn’t hurt, but if you clip them too deep, then you can cause your finger to hurt and bleed.

The wing feathers will also grow back relatively quick but some hens often give up flying and don’t try it even when the feathers have grown back.

To clip a chicken’s wings, you should have two people — one to hold the chicken and one to cut her feathers. Hold the chicken firmly and extend one wing to its full length. When the wing is in this position, you’ll be able to see the design and structure of her wing: there will be short feathers closer to her body and longer ones toward the tip of her wing. These are called the lead feathers. Cut them to the same length as the smaller feathers towards her body.

Graphic courtesy of "<em>A Guide to Raising Chickens</em>" by Gail Damerow” title=”wingclipping” width=”300″ height=”302″ class=”size-full wp-image-787″ /></a><figcaption id=Graphic courtesy of A Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow

You’ll probably cut off one or two inches of feather. If in doubt, cut less as you can always cut a bit more off. If you cut too deep, you’ll cause the feathers to bleed. If this happens, put some cornstarch on the bleeding feathers, though I doubt you’ll have to do this as you have to cut really close to the body to make her feathers bleed. If you just cut one or two inches, you should be fine.

Remember to ONLY clip one wing as that would keep her from flying out of the coop by sending her off balance when she tries to fly. If you clip both wings she will only flap harder and still fly high enough to escape.

Lucie getting her wings clipped
Lucie getting one of her wings clipped (source: http://www.urbanhomestead.org/journal)
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